- Associated Press - Thursday, July 19, 2012

Major league baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching and rumors are swirling surrounding several big-name players.

Who will be dealt before 4 p.m. EST on July 31?

Fewer teams are expected to be sellers this year because the addition of a second wild-card spot allows more clubs to stay in contention. But there should still be plenty of movement involving teams that are way behind in the playoff race.

Will the five-time defending NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies unload players?

Can the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates make a big move in hopes of securing their first winning season since 1992?

The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball, but they can afford any of the high-priced rental players out there. Who can help them?

How can the Texas Rangers improve their chances of finally winning the World Series after losing it two straight years?

Let’s examine those questions by taking a closer look at five players who could be switching uniforms:


HOLLYWOOD HAMELS? Cole Hamels was long ago nicknamed Hollywood by Phillies teammates for his GQ style, movie-star looks and laid-back attitude. Now the three-time All-Star lefty could be headed home to California _ Hollywood in particular. The Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams expected to pursue Hamels. So are the Los Angeles Angels.

Of course, the Yankees have an eye on Hamels. Texas may be the best fit to make a deal, however. The Rangers have excellent prospects in the minor leagues, specifically third baseman Mike Olt and shortstop Jurickson Profar. If the last-place Phillies could get either player, they might pull the trigger, especially because Hamels already made it clear he wouldn’t rule out returning to Philadelphia when he becomes a free agent after the season.

The Phillies are planning to make a significant offer to Hamels, hoping the 2008 World Series MVP can’t refuse it. This one could go down to the last minute.


NEED A CENTER FIELDER? The Phillies will be busy no matter what happens with Hamels. It’s unlikely they will want to pay Shane Victorino what he will make in free agency after the season, so the Flyin’ Hawaiian’s days in Philadelphia seem numbered.

Victorino is a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who makes sense for several teams, including the Pirates, Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants.

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